The 7 Hidden Rules Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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by Annie Kaszina on June 13, 2016

Just suppose there were 7 hidden rules of an emotionally abusive relationship. That would go a long way to explaining why so many  good, intelligent people get hooked into exactly the kind of relationship they really don’t want.

The statistics tell us that 1 in 4 women will undergo domestic violence. Chances are that significantly understates the numbers of those who “only” suffer mental and emotional abuse.

So why does it happen?  Why does it happen, even in these relatively ‘enlightened times’?  And why does it happen to the rich and famous no less than to anyone else?

The 7 Hidden Rules of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

Hidden Rules Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #1:  It doesn’t just happen.   We become abused women and learn to settle for an abusive relationship because we were taught to settle for less. Mostly, emotionally abused women were taught by parents, or other carers, to settle for Less than we deserved or needed:

  • Less love
  • Less respect
  • Less care
  • Less consideration
  • Less support
  • Less encouragement
  • Less quality of life

Most of us were programmed, from a young age, to believe that that Less was all we were going to get.  That belief that your lot in life was Less was never your fault.  However, it became the Achilles heel that you didn’t even know you had.

Hidden Rules Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #2:  Whatever goes wrong is always your fault.   When you learn that you are not that important, it becomes second nature to accept blame for whatever happens within a 10-mile radius of you.  You tell yourself that the horrible things your emotionally abusive partner says must be true.

Hidden Rules Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #3:  You let your abusive partner off the hook.  Whenever you find an explanation for his bad behavior, you’re actually giving him – and yourself – a clear message that he is NEVER accountable for his own behavior.   Colluding with him  has nothing to do with compassion or love. What it does do is send a very clear message that  it’s okay for him carry on abusing you  – because you will just suck it up.

Hidden Rules Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #4 : You keep on throwing good love after bad.   You tell yourself that your love is the alchemy that will one day transform your emotionally abusive partner and turn his dross into gold.  All you need to do is just keep waving your magic wand as hard as you can and, some day, the magic is bound to work (if your arm doesn’t drop off from exhaustion first).

So sorry to dispel another cherished hope, but  an emotionally abusive relationship really doesn’t work that way.  You know how the more you do for other people, the less they bother to do for themselves?  And the less grateful they are? Well, that is exactly how it works with Mr. Nasty?  Why, on earth, would he bother to work at the relationship, when he can leave that stuff to you? 

Hidden Rules of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #5 Keep believing that he is wonderful – no matter what.  Sure, if you believe that he is wonderful, then you have to believe that you are awful.  Most of the time he acts like a complete jerk.  Yet that doesn’t stop you believing that he is wonderful and lovable. You, on the other hand, do everything you possibly can to be loving, caring, understanding, and supportive, and keep the peace, but that doesn’t stop you believing that you are vile and horrible, and nobody else would ever want you.

REALITY CHECK, PLEASE!  If it looks like a jerk, talks like a jerk, and acts like a jerk, it is a jerk. It’s that simple.  Every single jerk, since the beginning of time, has come with a guarantee which reads: 
“This jerk is guaranteed to make you as unhappy as you have ever been in your entire life
.  He will never change or improve to make you happy.” 
That guarantee is the only thing he will ever honor where you’re concerned.

Hidden Rules of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #6 Always, always focus on him.  It’s all about him, isn’t it? You are so convinced that he needs to change, that he is perfectible, and a fine human being whose light is largely hidden by a dung heap, that you completely and utterly disregard yourself.  You’ll be happy when he
You’ll be able to grow and thrive emotionally when he…  You’ll defer having any good feelings until you can bestow them on him first.

Think about it for a moment: abusive men don’t do selflessness, and they certainly don’t defer gratification.  They want their emotional payoffs and they want them NOW, toddler style .

Hidden Rules of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #7 Hand him control of the relationship from the get-go.  Even  if you don’t like the way he does things , you let him know that you are prepared to accept whatever he dishes out, regardless.  Once you have handed him control of the relationship you have two choices:

  1. Ignore everything you see that you don’t like
  2. Ask him to change and take your wishes into account.  Then, when he fails to do so, back down.  That will work for him – although he may need to share his feelings with you by throwing a hissy fit. You may not like that behavior, but just remember Hidden Rules of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship #3.

Now you know the 7 Hidden Rules of an emotionally abusive relationship.  Hopefully, bringing them to your attention in a slightly brutal way will help protect you for the future. Now, you need to learn how to treat yourself like you matter, that, when you are ready, you can create the great relationship you desire.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,

Annie Kaszina

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

cindy grace June 16, 2016 at 5:40 am

What about Men being abused? It is happening more and more frequently! I quit reading this because it is sexist and disappointing that abused men have no where to turn. Sad


Annie June 16, 2016 at 9:49 am

Hi Cindy,

I don’t deny that men can be victims of emotional abuse, too.

The client group I work with are women who have been abused by men. So, that is who I write for.

I have sometimes tried to go the politically correct route and alternate ‘he’ and ‘she’, and all the gender-shifting became a tad challenging to read.

However, I do take our point. Perhaps the best thing would be for me to put a caveat on my website explaining where I am coming from in what I write.




Sandy June 16, 2016 at 7:46 am

Very powerful information. Thank you so much. Sandy


Jennifer Joseph June 18, 2016 at 6:43 pm

Hello Annie,
I finally learned these 7 lessons on my own and I have reached the point where I know I’m worth more than I’m getting or will ever get from my husband of almost 20 years. My only question is how does one leave the marriage when they are disabled and have no one to turn to and nowhere to go? I’m terrified of living in poverty and becoming homeless which is the one thing that keeps me trapped. Believe me, if I could still work and had a decent income, I would leave him tomorrow. For anyone who is in an abusive relationship, let me give you some advice. Leave while you still have the chance. Don’t waste a minute of your life hoping he’ll change because he (or she) won’t. The longer you stay in the abusive environment, the less chance you’ll have to stop the damage from being done to you. I have learned this the hard way from personally living it. If anyone ever says anything hurtful to you once, there’s nothing to stop them from repeatedly verbally or emotionally (or physically) abusing you. Once is one time too many! I just want to escape and never look back! It’s very very difficult now that I’m in my 50’s and can’t work any longer and don’t have any family I can go to stay with. If I had realized when I left the first time that things would just get worse, I wouldn’t have let him fool me into coming back. I was abused as a child and consequently, I became a people pleaser. I never thought about how my life would be when I got older if I didn’t run for my life the first time he snapped at me. Worse than that, I had 4 Daughters from my first marriage who were very young when my abusive husband and I got together and he verbally and emotionally abused them too. Each one of my Daughters have been involved with a jerk at some point after reaching adulthood. It breaks my heart knowing I might have been able to prevent them from accepting less than they deserve. Bottom line is NEVER let anyone make you feel bad or sad for any reason. Anyone who inflicts any kind of pain on you doesn’t deserve to be in your life….PERIOD!!


Annie Kaszina June 20, 2016 at 7:19 am

You are absolutely right, Jennifer, nobody who inflicts pain on you deserves to be in your life.

Obviously, I can’t know the full circumstances of your life from this brief message. What I do know is that other women in a situation similar to yours have found a way to leave – once they started to believe they could – and therefore I cannot rule out the possibility that you yet might. Nor should you exclude that possibility.

You do need to check out your legal rights, if you haven’t done so already.

In the end, any time is a good time to leave an emotionally abusive partner – but it’s never going to feel like a good time.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,



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